Beers in Croatia: Lagers, Dark, Fruity, Wheat and Low Alcohol
A day at the beach on Croatia's stunning Adriatic coast can build up quite a thirst. The good news is that there is a wide variety of quality local beers.
Tourists looking for a cold one on holiday in Croatia have a decent selection of local beers to choose from, in terms of type, strength and fruitiness. Here is a brief overview of the most popular beers on offer on the Croatian coast this summer:
Located in the city of Karlovac, 40km from Zagreb,Karlovacko is one of the country's most popular lagers, and its marketing has proved highly effective in portraying it as the national beer, with its trademark colours of red and white the same as those of the Croatian football team home strip.
Owned by Carlsberg, the standard product is a smooth lager that is available in 0.5l and 0.33l bottles, as well as the trademark 0.25 'twist off.' Its current alcohol content is 5.0%, down from 5.4% in 2009, according to the excellent beer information website, RateBeer.com.
The brewery has jumped on the latest bandwagon to produce fruitier beers with the launch of Karlovacko Radler, a mix of beer (40%) and lemon juice (60%), with alcohol content of just 2%, while there is another lower level alternative, Karlovacko Rally at 0.5%.
Named after the month of March when the best beer is traditionally produced, according to the official Ozjusko website, the Belgian owned brewery in Zagreb is the Croatia's most popular beer, with 10 bottles consumed a second in the country.
Ozjusko has been produced since 1893 and has an alcohol content of 5%. In June 2010, the brewery unveiled Ozjusko Pcenicno, a wheat beer in the style of German Weissbier. As with Karlovacko, a new lemon beer has been launched, and Ozjusko Cool is Croatia's best-selling alcohol-free lager.
Carlsberg-owned, the Pan brewery offers a range of beers to the domestic market, including the main Pan lager, Pan Zlatni (literally Pan Gold), a fuller flavoured lager, and brand varieties for lemon, wheat and non-alcohol beers.
Although headquartered in neighbouring Slovenia, Lasko was produced until recently in a brewery in Split. With its trademark goat label, Zlatorog, as it is also known, is a popular choice on the coast, with its smooth lager containing 4.9%. A very drinkabable Lasko dark beer is harder to find but worth seeking out.
Croatia's strongest beer, at 7.3%, is Tomislav, a dark beer made from 18% of malt extract, and brewed since 1925. It is brewed by the Belgian-owned Zagrebacka Pivovara, and tops the RateBeer site for best beer in Croatia.
There are also several micro breweries in Croatia worth checking out. Among the best isPivnica Medvedgrad, which has an interesting range of quality brews, including the 7% extra strong dark beer, fruity black beer (4%), light Zlatni Medved lager (3.8%, translated as Golden Bear) and Mrki Medved, a 4% reddish brown beer with a more bitter taste.
There are also many international brands available for those who want to stick with old friends. As always, the advice is to drink in moderation, and to be aware that alcohol cannot legally be served before 8am.